The Dutch Presidency Rises to the Occasion: 15 Council Conclusions That Will Set the Way Forward for R&I in the European Union

Press Release | The League of European Research Universities (LERU) | May 27, 2016

Today, the EU Member State Ministers responsible for Research have adopted conclusions that will set the way forward for research and innovation. These conclusions are the result of the exemplary Dutch Presidency of the EU Council. A Presidency that has put research high on the agenda and has made its actions match its words by delivering on its priorities. The Council conclusions set the course of action on the three main priorities identified by the Dutch Presidency in research and innovation: higher impact of investments in R&I via better circulation and access to knowledge (Open Science); improved framework conditions (R&I friendly regulation); and investment in R&I as essential for economic growth & jobs and tackling societal challenges (Framework Programmes).

For their contribution to research and innovation, LERU particularly welcomes 15 conclusions adopted by the Council today. The most important headlines are
given below (details may be found in an accompanying LERU policy brief).

The Council conclusions are a major boost for the transition towards an Open Science system.

The Council conclusions on Open Science will help to create a new culture for undertaking and disseminating the results of research in the 21st century. The conclusions are appropriate and targeted, and embrace a wide range of issues which are of importance to society in the new century. The Council recognises the potential of open science for knowledge and society and the role that open access to scientific publications and the optimal reuse of research data have to play in it.

The conclusions capture many of the claims made by LERU over the past few months. The results of publicly funded research should be made available as openly as possible and unnecessary barriers to accessing the results of publicly funded research should be removed. The assessment of scientific quality should be based on the work itself and be broadened beyond impact factors (as stated in the San Francisco Declaration for Research Assessment, DORA). Initiatives for better quality assurance should be developed, together with rewards for sharing the results of research. There is a need to support the mining of the results of publicly funded research to which its users have legal access, as LERU has repeatedly stated: “the right to read is the right to mine” (Murray-Rust, 2012), and legal possibilities for measures that would allow researchers or their employers to retain the copyright on their scientific work should be explored.

The Council supports a transition to immediate Open Access as the default by 2020 and calls for close monitoringon this goal-one which LERU supports, albeit not an easy ambition. LERU subscribes to the Council’s opinion that research data should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” and joins the Council in welcoming the European Commission ́s intention of setting open research data produced by Horizon 2020 as the default position. LERU also joins the Council in emphasising the importance of the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) for the optimal reuse of research data and the benefits that may be brought about by the European Open Science Cloud.

Notwithstanding LERU ́s positive reaction to the Council conclusions on Open Science, LERU differs in opinion from the Council on scientific publishing agreements. As LERU Secretary-General, Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, states: “The Council ́s emphasis on the importance of clarity in scientific publishing agreements is welcomed but obviously insufficient. Clarity is good but, above all, transparency on the final agreement is needed when it comes to scientific publishing negotiations. For us, there’s a clear red line for non-disclosure agreements, because at the end of the day, it also involves, directly or indirectly, significant amounts of tax payers money.”

LERU joins the Council in calling on the Commission, the Member States and the stakeholders to take the necessary actions needed for making open science a reality and is delighted to actively contribute to it through the appointment of Prof. Deketelaere as one of the members of the Open Science Policy Platform.

Research funded by the EU represents less than 10% of all research funded in the EU. Therefore, national and other research funding organisations, and Science Europe as a leading representative body for funders, play a crucial role in making open science a reality, as has already been demonstrated by a few national research funders’ policies. LERU calls on funders to take this opportunity now: to put their money where their mouth is, to take the Council conclusions to heart and to require open access for the research they fund.

The Council conclusions are a good step in the right direction for Research and Innovation friendly regulation.

LERU firmly believes that research and innovation friendly regulation is of utmost importance to the European Union. The EU cannot afford to have inadequate framework conditions that hamper R&I, placing Europe at a disadvantage in comparison to its global competitors. LERU very much welcomes R&I friendly regulation as one of the Dutch Presidency priorities and the Council conclusions adopted today. Although much remains to be done in this regard, the conclusions are a good step in the right direction.

LERU agrees with the Council on the existence of bottlenecks hampering research and innovation within the EU and welcomes the actions suggested by the Council to address them (such as setting up the “Innovation Deals” or inventorising regulations that cause these bottlenecks). LERU particularly endorses the Council ́s call for the application of the “Innovation Principle”, which entails taking into account the impact on R&I when considering, developing or updating EU policy or regulatory measures. However, Prof. Deketelaere adds: “Developing a “Research and Innovation Principle”, not just an “Innovation Principle” is vital in order to ensure R&I friendly regulation”.

The Council conclusions fully support the Research Framework Programmes as investments in growth, jobs and solutions to societal challenges and the ERA policy framework.

LERU welcomes the conclusions adopted on FP7, whose ex-post evaluation has shown the programme to be successful in boosting excellent science, strengthening industrial competitiveness, contributing to jobs and growth, and addressing societal challenges. LERU stresses the importance of the current and future Framework Programmes, supports ongoing simplification efforts (for which it has made recent recommendations, cf. “KISS Horizon 2020”), and will contribute its views on the mid-term review of Horizon2020 and the development of the next Framework Programme. LERU shares the Council ́s concern and call to ensure that loan-based financing is not further expanded to the detriment of grant-based R&I funding within Horizon2020. LERU agrees on the need to continue the joint efforts to further develop the ERA.

“Today is a good day for research, says LERU Chair, Prof. Alain Beretz. From time to time, it is good to see the Member States pushing the research agenda forward instead of hampering it”.

For further information, please see the accompanying LERU policy brief.

Related publications
The new EU General Data Protection Regulation: why it worries universities and researchers (LERU, 14 April 2016)
The academic world urges publishers to enter a brave new world (LERU, 27 January 2016)
EU copyright reform: time to walk the talk (LERU, 9 December 2015)
KISS Horizon 2020 –Keep It Simple & Straightforward (LERU, 26 October 2015)
The Right to Read is the Right to Mine (LERU, 19 October 2015)
EU Council conclusions on the transition towards an Open Science system, on Research and Innovation friendly regulation, on FP7 and the future outlook, see:

Policy Enquiries
Prof Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General: +32 499 80 89 99 / [email protected]

Alea López de San Román, Policy Officer: +32 483 59 97 52 / [email protected]

Media Enquiries
Mr. Bart Valkenaers, Press & Communications Officer: +32 498 08 43 49 / [email protected]

About LERU
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is an association of twenty-
one leading research-intensive universities that share the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research.

Founded in 2002, LERU advocates education through an awareness of the frontiers of human understanding; the creation of new knowledge through basic research, which is the ultimate source of innovation in society; and the promotion of research across a broad front in partnership with industry and society at large.

The purpose of the League is to advocate these values, to influence policy in Europe and to develop best practice through mutual exchange of experience. LERU regularly publishes a variety of papers and reports which make high-level policy statements, provide in-depth analyses and make concrete recommendations for policymakers, universities, researchers and other stakeholders.
The LERU universities are:

  • •University of Amsterdam
  • Universitat de Barcelona
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Freiburg
  • Université de Genève
  • Universität Heidelberg
  • University of Helsinki
  • Universiteit Leiden
  • KU Leuven
  • Imperial College London
  • University College London
  • Lund University
  • University of Milan
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • University of Oxford
  • Pierre & Marie Curie University
  • Université Paris-Sud
  • University of Strasbourg
  • Utrecht University
  • University of Zurich